Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Boston Bruins v. Chicago Blacks heading into Game 4

During Game 3 the Boston Bruins blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0, a series that was once  tilted in favor of the Blackhawks now has them playing on their heels. The Bruins did not just win Game 3 but they dominated the Blackhawks.  They seem to have figured their game out; from defense to offense they are leaving no holes in their game.  The Bruins are doing all the right things.  Game 3 was built off of the Bruins momentum from the end of Game 2, where they were excelling and creating opportunities from unlikely sources.  The Bruins continue to excel at the physical aspect of the game, leaving no path of least resistance for the Blackhawks.  The Bruins, who came off of a clean sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins to lose Game 1 of the final to the Blackhawks now, are in the position to end the series by Game 5. The Blackhawks are facing a few challenges in this series.  Their weak power play has gotten the best of them; they need to have a power play strategy, practice the power play and put the power play out of their mind once it is over. Ray Ferraro, now TSN analyst who made his living on the power play during his NHL career said:
 "You have to be careful not to let an ineffective power play seep into the rest of your game and frustrate you.”
 In addition to their ineffective power plays, minutes before Game 3 started the Blackhawks lost high scoring right winger, Marian Hossa to an upper body injury; Hossa is expected to return for Game 4 which could impact the Blackhawks power play.  With talented players like: Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp and Keith in the lineup it’s puzzling why the power play is such an issue.  Another issue facing the Blackhawks is: Tuukka Rask.  The Blackhawks need to score goals, which means they have to get the puck past the glove hand of Rask.  In order for the Blackhawks to score on him they will need to force rebound opportunities and overwhelm Rask with bodies in front of the net.  Instead of trying to score on Rask straight on, the Blackhawks will have to block Rask with bodies and shot around him to score.  The Blackhawks needed a clean sweep in Boston to put the Bruins in a 3-1 hole like LA, but a split in Boston will still put the Blackhawks in a good position.

Going into Game 4 tonight the Blackhawks still have a chance.  They are a proven team; the Blackhawks are more battletested after defeating the reigning champs: The L.A Kings, a rigid and regimented team who had the best chance of a repeat cup after the extended off season this year.  Also a note worthy accomplishment for the Blackhawks from the second round was their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Detroit Redwings.  The Blackhawks can once again tilt the series in their favor despite their weak power play.  In fact, power play woes have plagued the last two teams who won the Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins 2011 and L.A Kings 2012; ineffective power plays did not prevent either team from winning the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks will have to take the ice tonight and out play the Bruins with their special teams and the Bruins will be relying on Rask for another clean sweep in the net. 

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